Talking Amphorae with Clayton Reabow

One of the things we love most about our winemaking team is their creativity. There’s always something interesting bubbling up in the cellar. We recently popped into the barrel maturation cellar and found winemaker Clayton Reabow doing some vinous sums—and while we had him cornered we asked him a few questions about his use of amphorae and Nomblot eggs.


What wine are you making with it?
We currently have 2 x 500L vessels, which we use for white wine, as well as 2 x 800L vessels used for red wine.

Of the white vessels, one is used to ferment Sémillon on skins, which is going to be used as a textural component in a new wine addition to the Miss Molly brand. The other vessel contributes as a blending component towards the Dr Reason Why Unwooded Chardonnay.

The larger vessels are used exclusively to produce our MKM (Moraka Klaas Maffa) Pinotage.

What do you think of the results?
I particularly enjoy how a wine evolves in amphorae. During fermentation already, the wine progresses and develops secondary characters as opposed to the retention of primary fruit characters offered by stainless steel. Wines fermented and matured in amphorae are very structural as well as textural. It has played a significant role in defining our unwooded Chardonnay by ensuring it remains a unique product year on year.

What do you think the future for the use of amphorae is; will it catch on in popularity in SA?
The use of amphorae will be limited to smaller boutique producers or wines produced in limited quantities. Ultimately, the vessels are small when compared to the scaling of traditional stainless steel tanks as well as static when compared to the manoeuvrability of oak barrels. Its future popularity will depend on how well the wines produced in amphorae are marketed. If you would like to taste such wines, our 2015 Dr Reason Why Unwooded Chardonnay is our first wine bottled using amphorae.

Where did you get yours from - is there a story there?
Our amphorae were imported from Impruneta Italy. The clay used in the manufacturing of the pots is restricted to the geographical area around the town. They are all produced by hand using a an ancient crafting technique called “colombino” each pot is also uniquely designed by hand as can be seen by the thumbprint artwork that circumferences the pot.